Construction is a large and complex worldwide industry constantly shaped by new information technologies, advanced materials, environmental policies, regulations and changing building methods. Most importantly, though, construction is shaped by people. Sustaining a strong industry requires attracting and valuing a skilled, career-driven, high quality workforce... who also like to build! How is the construction industry attracting the skilled workforce for future growth market demands? Do prospective candidates see construction as a viable career choice?

A recent study prepared by NRG Research for the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of British Columbia (ICBA) reveals that 59% of the respondents were unaware of how to get into the trades because of misperceptions of the construction trades.  The study also showed that less than 50% of the respondents saw the construction trades as a long-term career.

Most of the respondents (British Columbians aged 18-29 years old) ranked construction jobs and skilled trades at the bottom of the list of possible jobs.  The study concluded that the industry has not done a good job of defining a road map for careers in the skilled trades in construction.

The poll, according to Philip Hochstein, president of ICBA, also showed that the top factors for candidates in seeking a crafts trade as a career are: discovering that they love the work, making more money, having job security, and having the opportunity for career advancement.

In summarizing the task ahead, Hochstein said that, “As an industry, we have some work to do to change the way young people perceive skilled trades.  ICBA and the open shop construction industry are rolling up our sleeves to make sure we do.”   Read more » about Misperception of the Construction Trades as a Career is a Global Issue

Sweeping education reforms passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 will be a great help to business leaders in Houston as they embark on an unprecedented push to promote “middle skills” jobs.  Those are well-paying jobs that, as the Construction Citizen team has been telling you, require more than a high school diploma but less than a degree from a four-year college or university.  It’s estimated that a whopping 40 percent of jobs in the greater Houston area fit that definition.

A huge piece of that education reform package, known as House Bill 5, was the creation of multiple pathways for students to earn their high school diploma.  Among the options students and parents can now choose from is a career in the blue collar trades like construction.   Read more » about Texas Education Reforms are Key in Promoting the Middle Skills

In the grand foyer at Wortham Theater filled with more than 200 construction professionals, Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston awarded members for their outstanding project achievements at the Excellence in Construction Gala on October 30.

ABC Member companies submitted their impressive projects to be reviewed by industry expert judges.  These projects ranged from heavy industrial to commercial and interior renovations.  Keeping with ABC's commitment to safety, the majority of the submissions had no reported injuries or incidents during their extensive and remarkable work.

The event, led by guest emcee Josh Reno, 20-year radio veteran with 94.5 the Buzz in Houston, honored these projects that create the landscape of Houston and beyond.  At the end of the evening, ABC awarded the coveted “Best of Houston” award to
E.E. Reed Construction for their outstanding work.   Read more » about ABC’s Excellence in Construction Award Winners Have Created Houston Skyline

The Houston region, just like many other areas of the country, faces a paradox when it comes to matching people with the right jobs.  But the challenge in Houston is exacerbated in a way that other places would love.  There are so many jobs available that employers simply can’t keep up.  The Construction Citizen team has written many times about the skills gap that leads to a situation where there are simultaneously plenty of openings for “middle-skills” jobs while there are lots of unemployed and under-employed people.  Middle-skills jobs, by the way, are positions that require more training than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree from a university.

The Greater Houston Partnership, the area’s largest business group, recently put a focus on this portion of the workforce.  They’re now moving in this direction for a pretty straightforward reason: the one thing that could bring the region’s rapidly growing economy to a screeching halt is a lack of skilled workers, GHP President and CEO Bob Harvey told a crowd of about 300 gathered at the University of Houston last week.   Read more » about Houston’s Business Community Starts a Push to Promote the Middle Skills

The oil and gas boom created by fracking and other new technologies has sent the demand for new construction along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana through the roof.  The impact of this surge in construction is being felt throughout the Midwest as well.

The demand has outstripped the supply of qualified construction craft professionals, and that has affected new commercial and industrial construction projects.  There is a growing shortage of skilled craft professionals needed to build the petrochemical plants, office buildings, warehouses, roads, and other projects spawned by the incredible growth in our regional economy – growth that is expected to continue into the next decade.  To address these needs, Construction Citizen this week launched its new
Craft Careers section and is expanding its editorial focus to include topics in industrial as well as in commercial construction.   Read more » about Construction Citizen Launches Careers Section for Craft Professionals

As we reflect on Veterans Day this week, most of us think about the countless blessings we have because of the sacrifice and service of our country’s brave men and women.  There is no doubt that this holiday gives deserving recognition to those who have so gallantly served.  However, we can do more than simply recognize our veterans.  We must remember the words of John F. Kennedy, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Earlier this year, the construction industry committed to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years.  In order to accomplish this, Build Your Future (BYF) partnered with the U.S. Department of Defense to use an effective recruitment tool known as SkillBridge, an online, Twitter-based portal specifically for transitioning service members.

During the last 180 days of service, military personnel undergo a transition phase.  Transitioning into civilian life is a daunting challenge for many service members, and two out three veterans report having a difficult time during this process.  In addition, veterans listed the greatest challenge during the phase was finding a civilian job.   Read more » about What Veterans Day Means to Our Industry

An astounding 83 percent of construction firms around the nation are having trouble finding enough workers and the numbers in Texas are even worse, according to a new survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America.

AGC surveyed 1,086 companies in late August and early September and said not only were the vast majority of them struggling to find craft workers, but 61% said the same about recruitment for key professional positions.  Drilling down into the Texas numbers, 90 percent of construction companies faced serious challenges in finding enough craft professionals and half of them are quickly losing workers to other industries.   Read more » about Survey Shows Texas Construction Companies Are Struggling to Find Workers

A recent study by the National Women’s Law Center called Women In Construction: Still Breaking Ground examines the current state of women in construction and finds that the industry is sorely lacking in programs to bring women into the industry and that women continue to suffer harassment and bullying on the jobsite.

The study, underwritten by the Ford Foundation, Morningstar Foundation, New Morning Foundation and the Irene B. Wolt Lifetime Trust, states that, “The share of women in construction has remained shockingly low – under 3 percent – for decades due in large part to the discrimination that blocks women from entering and staying in the field.”

This is interesting in that the study compares construction to other fields and finds that women’s roles in the other professions have grown to levels of 50% – far outstripping the approximately 3% of women in our industry.  Currently, the report states that, “There are about 7,615,000 male construction workers in the U.S. and only about 206,000 women.”

The study shares personal stories of women who are in the industry or were in the industry but left due to the conditions that they were subjected to on a daily basis.   Read more » about FBI – Friends, Brothers and In-Laws, but Few Women in Construction

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